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For the uninitiated, Miami Swim Week is Mercedes-Benz's official fashion week for all things beach (and pool, and summer in general). And in the ten years since its inception, it's gotten seriously huge.
What began as just a handful of shows has now grown to include presentations from 50 brands at a variety of venues both official and not; this year alone attracted more than 600 media outlets and buyers from all over, accounting for a chunk of the 10,000 guests who made their way to Florida. It is, without a doubt, the most important event for swim and resort wear in the country—if not the world.
So, why has Miami Swim exploded? Rebecca Kleinman, a writer for WWD who's been covering the event for years, believes it's all thanks to the internet. "The shows get more coverage now because of social media platforms and online publications," she says. It's a feedback loop: More coverage signals more interest (whether it be real or perceived), which then attracts more designers...which means even more coverage. It also helps that some of the looks are pretty out-there, just begging to be written about.
As reputable brands started flocking to Miami to get in on the action, they also brought professional production companies and modeling and PR agencies along with them. "The New York agencies started coming when the big designers started coming, probably about five years ago," explains Elysze Held, a stylist who's been attending Swim Week since it began. "IMG and Mercedes cleaned it up a tremendous amount. Now it's even called Mercedes-Benz Swim Week, which lends it a lot of credibility."
There's also been the industry push to view swimwear as more than just articles of clothing we wear to the beach. Do you really know anyone who throws on a rashguard with their bikini? Probably not, but that doesn't mean they won't pair a cute one with a skirt. Board shorts? Not just for dudes trying to hang ten anymore.
That's why, in addition to the shows and presentations, the trade show that happens simultaneously during Miami Swim is so important. This is where most of the business is done, and a solid response from the press is something buyers often consider. According to the market research firm NPD Group, swimwear sales in the U.S. reached $4.4 billion in the past year, a not-at-all insignificant six percent increase.
So yes, with the swim market—and its most important event—continuing to heat up, it's possible you'll hear a whole lot more about Miami Swim in the years to come. Life's a beach, and all that.—Ashley Brozic
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